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Is the Irvine City Council following the model of Newport Beach?

Banning Ranch
Banning Ranch

The Newport Beach City Council focuses a great deal on the upkeep of their city. Keeping their beaches clean and developing new parks is a major issue that they continue to look for new ways to improve upon. The Republican majority City Council recently approved a deal with a developer to push through a new space for a park. They recently approved the Environmental Impact Report for the Banning Ranch, which according to Councilwoman Nancy Gardner “is about 400 acres of oil fields and open space. In return for allowing the development of 1300+ homes, the developer will deed over half the property for parks and open space as well as remediate the oil fields.”

This model of public-private partnership has its pros and cons. Yes, you are getting a new park for your city, but you are also cutting a deal that leaves you less space than you may have originally wanted. Nonetheless, the Republican city council of Newport Beach deemed this to be a good deal and we will have to wait and see just how big the trade-off will be.

This model of public-private partnership, however, is something that the city of Irvine is looking to do as well.  Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Lalloway has said that he wants to look into public-private partnerships in regards to furthering along development for the Great Park. Is the Irvine City Council hinting at wanting to follow the model of Newport Beach?

Balloon Ride at The Great Park Irvine
Balloon Ride at The Great Park Irvine

It would certainly further along the development of the Great Park, but at what cost? This would give the developer a great deal of say over the park and take a lot of the decision making away from the public. It would surely mean less park space than originally promised, as whatever developer that gets the deal would be sure to get their money’s worth. This blueprint that the Newport Beach city council uses seems to be the same way Irvine is leaning towards. Lets hope the new Republican majority city council doesn’t make too much of a trade off so the Great Park stays big enough to justify the name “Great Park.”


  1. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski April 10, 2013

    Welcome Joel to our blog team; great first post

  2. Ltpar Ltpar April 10, 2013

    Yea Joel, welcome to the hot seat.

    While I can’t speak for Newport Beach, I have been around Irvine since the early days of orange and avacoda groves and understand a little of it’s history. In Irvine, public-private sector partnerships have been at play since it’s inception. That is one of the things which has made us great. It started with the partnership between the Irvine Company and the City and spread to other stakeholders over the years. I helped build the public-private sector partnership from a Public Safety perspective and can tell you without hesitation that it works. In fact, while the politicans like to take the bows for Irvine being America’s Safest Community, they had very little to do with it. The foundation of the partnership was the stakeholders of the community combined with the men and women of the Police Department. They all had input into problem identification, were active in implementing interventions and developed a tight bond in the process. No one took control, tried to take advantage for their own interest and the citizens reaped the benefit.

    The Agranistas had ten years at the Great Park to do something and the results were pitiful. They have blown through 200 million dollars, have done no construction of note and never came up with a long term means of funding development or maintenance? For the most part, the new City Council is back to square one on what to do with the Park. While I am not a big fan of Five Points Developers, I see them as being but one of many eventual stakeholders at the Park. I do not see the new Council majority caving in to them, especially on the additional density and problems it will bring to North Irvine. I would see a number of other players being brought into the mix, to present new ideas and importantly critical sources of long tern revenue. If the process follows the Irvine past practice on public-private sector partnership, it will be a win-win arrangement for everyone, especially the citizens of Irvine.

    The City Council is to be congratulated for their philosophy on this approach and I wouldn’t be so quick to judge the end result until we get there. In conclusion, while Newport Beach is a fine city, Irvine has always been a leader in everything we have done. The Great Park, in the end, will be the same.

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